The Texans 2019 Awards: Best Defensive Play

With the 2020 Oscars set for Sunday, we will be unveiling our nominees for some of our favorite plays from the 2019 season. Instead of Best Actor, Best Picture and Best Director, we've come up with our own categories. Today, we nominate a play for (cue the music)…

BEST DEFENSIVE PLAY OF 2019

John Harris, Texans Analyst and Sideline Reporter
Nomination: Bradley Roby's pick off Tom Brady

I have a few in my mind, but Bradley Roby's interception on a third-down throw against Tom Brady and the Patriots kick-started one of the best regular season wins in quite some time in this building. Roby returned from an injury that night and was in man coverage on rookie wide receiver N'Keal Harry. Brady saw man coverage and thought Roby vs. Harry was his best matchup. However, Roby stepped in front of Harry after perfect man-to-man technique and nearly took one to the house. A few plays later, Deshaun Watson found Duke Johnson for the Texans' first touchdown of the night and this building went nuts. That was a result of Roby's pick late in the first quarter and my choice for Defensive Play of the Year.

Drew Dougherty, Texans TV Host
Nomination: J.J. Watt's sack against Buffalo

This one's simple. Trailing 13-0 in the third quarter, with the Bills steaming toward a touchdown and a 20-0 lead, J.J. Watt flipped a switch. He lit a spark. He turned the tables.

Whichever cliché you'd like to use, it probably works for Watt's sack against Buffalo in the AFC Wild Card playoff game.

He came off the edge, beat the Bills' right tackle and smoked Josh Allen for a loss of eight on third-and-8. That pushed Buffalo from the 12-yard line back to the 20, and Watt went bananas in celebration. The NRG Stadium crowd, too, quaked for the rest of regulation and into overtime. Buffalo kicked a field goal, the Texans answered with a touchdown, and the momentum shifted Houston's way in the victory.

Deepi Sidhu, Texans Insider and Lead Writer
Nomination: Jacksonville's two-point conversion DENIED by Justin Reid

I had about half a dozen plays in the running, but Justin Reid's big stop on the Jaguars' two-point conversion is my pick for Defensive Play of 2019. When Reid stuffed Leonard Fournette at the goal line with just 36 seconds remaining, the Texans went from nearly falling to 0-2 on the season to a 13-12 win against Jacksonville.

Every heard of the Butterfly Effect?

That's the beauty of that play made in Week 2. The results, if different, could have turned that ripple into a tornado later. If the Jaguars won, they might not have begun to see early cracks in the armor. If they lost two in a row to start the season, the Texans might have slid further, having to go on the road to face the Chargers. Later in the season, another loss would have had huge implications in the division standings for an already-tight race in the AFC South. Perhaps both the Texans and Titans would finish with a 3-3 division record or maybe Houston would need to play all of its starters, banged up or not, just to clinch the division in Week 17. Reid's play put a BIG stop to those two points and all the what-ifs, with a much-needed early division win.

Marc Vandermeer, Voice of the Houston Texans
Nomination: Whitney Mercilus' 86-yard interception return at Tennessee

In a critical divisional game at Tennessee, late in the season, the teams slugged it out through a scoreless first quarter. The Titans were on a roll, having won four in a row. They mounted a drive in the second frame, earning a first-and-goal at the five-yard line. Ryan Tannehill rifled a pass to tight end Anthony Firkser, but Justin Reid got there with a big hit as the ball arrived. It bounced into the hands of Whitney Mercilus who rumbled up the sideline to the Tennessee 12-yard line, setting up the first Houston touchdown. The play flipped the game in the Texans' favor and they were able to derail a hot team and solidify their lead in the AFC South.

Up Next: Best Gotta-Have-It Moment

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